A heavily favored Cape wrestling team approached Sussex Central in its own gym with extreme caution Jan. 8, with good reason. The Vikings have only beaten the Golden Knights twice in head coach Chris Mattioni’s 18-year tenure.
But riding an onslaught of six pins in the final seven matches, Cape secured a 49-17 victory and has now beaten Caesar Rodney and Sussex Central in the same season.
“Smyrna is stacked, and Sussex Tech is another great team," Mattioni said. "The Henlopen Conference is just solid this year.”
The match started at 115 where Cape freshman Justin Wright went to overtime and took down Matt Hooker for a 6-4 victory.
The Vikings got decked and majored with a Jack Brown pin of Eriq Gloria in 59 seconds at 120 and a William Ortiz 19-5 decision over Dante Jacquet. Cape trailed 10-3.
Vinnie Diego at 132 posted a big win 4-3 over Central's Christian Green, closing the match to 10-6.
“Those were two huge wins for us early because we knew once we rolled into our upper weights we presented matchup problems for Central. They weighed in two guys at 182 and may have sent Conaway after Aaron [Mattioni] at 195, but the predicted points were just not there for them.”
Cape's Elliot Young, 138, defeated Blake Chambers 6-2, and Central's Justin Bennett, 145, edged Nick Diego 7-6.The Knights led 13-9 with six of 14 weight classes in the books but were rolling into Cape’s wheelhouse.
The next eight weight classes saw Cape pile up six pins and a major decision for a 40-4 run and a 49-17 victory.
Jevon Currie's 17-5 major over Dylan Blake at 152 pounds was followed by Cape pins by Austin Smith, 160, of Lucas Hudson at 3:16; Justin Lopez, 170, of James Jenkins at 1:50; Aaron Mattioni, 195, over Kevone Knocks at 1:41; Tom Ott, 220, over Victor Cruz at 1:45; Nick Carroll, heavyweight, over Myles Varnett at 4:11; and Emerson Fajardo, 106, over Jordan West in 3:19.
Clay Conaway of Central, 182, a senior and contender for a state title, dominated Andre Flowers, who is no joke himself, and won 12-0. Conaway is heading to the University of Maine next year to play baseball.
"That is the best I’ve seen Emerson [Fajardo] wrestle,” Mattinoni said of the junior. "He’s a natural at 106 and has athletic talent. When he’s aggressive, he can be tough to deal with. “
The match didn’t start until 8:30, and JV grapplers got after each other for 90 minutes. No team score was kept. “We have the best crew of ninth-graders we’ve had in awhile," Mattioni said.
Cape heads to the Hub Cup Tournament Friday and Saturday, Jan.10 and 11, in Hagerstown, Md., before coming home to face Polytech Wednesday, Jan. 15; Smyrna Friday, Jan. 17; and Saint Georges Saturday, Jan. 18.